HOLY WEEK AND EASTER
Palm Sunday – 11:00 A.M. Procession and Divine Service
Maundy Thursday – 7:30 P.M. Divine Service
Good Friday – 7:30 P.M. Liturgy of Good Friday
EASTER EVE – 7:30 P.M. The Easter Vigil
EASTER DAY – 11:00 A.M. Festival Divine Service
Sunday School and Adult Class will not meet on Easter Day.
125th ANNIVERSARY OF OUR SAVIOUR CHURCH
Sunday, April 30th, Festival Divine Service, 11:00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For us here at Our Saviour Church this month of April brings both Holy Week and Easter and also – on Sunday, April 30th – the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of our Church. But before I say anything about this I first want to thank everyone who made possible the wonderful lunch on my birthday and everyone who brought cards and gifts for me. Lynetric Bridges made a beautiful birthday cake for the occasion. I was also very happy to welcome some of my dear friends who are members of Immanuel Church in Alexandria. As always the food was delicious and there was more than enough for everyone! Thank you and may God reward you for your generosity!
I must mention the large notice taped to the west door of the Church. I was rather shocked when it appeared but it is nothing more than a public notice – “To whom it may concern” – of a hearing to be held on April 11th in connection with our Church being placed on the historic register of buildings here in Baltimore. The notice will be taken down on the 11th. Quilla Downs, Judy Volkman, and Bernie Knox will be attending the April 11th hearing. Excellent progress is being made on this effort to acquire historic designation.
As we approach Easter Day, the great Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, we are painfully conscious of the reign of death throughout the world. And so there come to mind some words of the late Walter Kuenneth, a Lutheran pastor and theologian who lived through the horrors of Hitler’s regime and the Second World War. I frequently allude to these words and I do so again because in a very succinct and compelling way they point to the one ground of hope. Writing in the year 1951 – just six years after the end of World War II and during the Korean War – Dr.Kuenneth had this to say:
The course of history, as it has so terribly disclosed itself to us, can only be a confirmation of the Christian insight that all mankind is trembling on the brink of destruction and groaning under the tyranny of death. In this dark night of the world there is only one single source of light: the joyful news, “Christ is Risen!”
But before we come to Easter there is the Holy Week of the Lord’s Passion. On Palm Sunday we remember Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday we remember our Lord’s institution of the holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood. At the end of the Divine Service the altar is stripped while the great Psalm of the Passion, Psalm 22, is sung. The altar is itself a symbol of Christ, and so the stripping of the altar reminds us of how at Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane all His disciples forsook Him and fled. At the Good Friday Liturgy the Passion according to Saint John is read and we pray the Bidding Prayer which by ancient usage is especially appointed for Good Friday. If you are unable to come to the evening service here at Our Saviour, you might attend some part of the Three Hour Service from 12:00 noon-3:00 P.M. at Bethlehem Church, 4815 Hamilton Avenue. Seven pastors preach on our Lord’s words from the cross. Surely every Christian should wish to be in the Lord’s House on the day of His saving death for our salvation. Confirmation class will not meet on Good Friday.
The celebration of Easter begins with the Easter Vigil on the evening of Easter Eve. Long before anyone thought of the Christmas Eve service, the Easter Vigil had been celebrated for centuries. Already in the 4th century Saint Augustine called it “the mother of all holy vigils.” In it the whole story of our salvation is told. The liturgy begins in darkness, recalling the darkness before creation, the darkness of the Passover night when Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt, and the darkness of the tomb where the lifeless body of Jesus lay. The new fire is kindled, the great Paschal – which means Easter – Candle lit and from it the candles held by the congregation; then the ancient Easter Proclamation is sung. Then three lessons from the Old Testament, which foreshadow our baptism into Jesus’ resurrection, follow. We then renew our baptismal vows. The Litany is sung and the first Eucharist of Easter is celebrated. Our preacher on Easter Eve will be the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Shaw. Chaplain Shaw now serves as Director of Operations for the United States Army Chaplain Corps.
The Paschal Candle burns at all services during the Easter season until on Ascension Day it is extinguished after the reading of the Gospel which tells of how in His ascension the risen Lord withdrew His visible presence from us. During the rest of the year the Paschal Candle stands by the baptismal font and, since in Baptism we are made one with Christ in His death and resurrection, it burns whenever Holy Baptism is administered. The Paschal Candle is also placed near the body of departed Christians during the funeral service for “if we have been united with [Christ] in a death like His” – and we have in baptism – “we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5).
Payment for Easter lilies – $10 each – together with the names of those being honored or remembered by them is due on Palm Sunday. See Judy Volkman.
Two weeks after Easter Day – April 30th – we shall celebrate the 125th Anniversary of our Church. There will be a Festival Divine Service at the usual hour followed by a festive lunch. The preacher for our anniversary celebration will be the Rev. Christopher Esget who is Pastor of Immanuel Church in Alexandria and Vice-President of the East/Southeast Region of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. He was elected to this office at last summer’s convention of Synod in Milwaukee. He preached for my installation as pastor here. Do plan on being present for this celebration and invite any people you know who once were members here or who might like to join us for the anniversary.
This year’s Saint Mark’s Conference will be held April 24-25. Although this conference is chiefly for pastors and seminarians, anyone may attend. The papers given at the conference will focus on the Office of the Holy Ministry as we find it in Holy Scripture, in the Lutheran Confessions, and in the history of the Church.
Although there is a registration fee for the conference, members of Our Saviour need not pay the fee.
Our former vicar Trent Demarest will be with us for the conference. He and his wife Maritza are now the proud parents of another little boy. So little John, who was one year old on March 3rd, now has a little brother. Thomas Irenaeus Demarest was born on March 6th and baptized on March 26th. Thomas is the name of one of Christ’s twelve apostles. Saint Irenaeus was an early Church Father who had known Saint Polycarp who knew Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist.
And speaking of vicars Brett Witmer will be our summer vicar this year. He grew up in Duncannon,Pennsylvania, about twenty miles north of Harrisburg,and graduated from Shippensburg University. He will have completed his first year of studies at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He had visited Baltimore during the week of Ash Wednesday and was present at the Divine Service here at Our Saviour on Ash Wednesday. We very much look forward to him being with us!
Every Sunday in the Divine Service we pray for those “for whom our prayers are desired.” Their names appear in the bulletin every week. Do remember them in your own prayers. Darlene Grant is as of this writing again hospitalized at Johns Hopkins. James Gray continues to convalesce at the Augsburg Home and Gabe Purviance is completing a course of treatment. Dorothy Bell was recently hospitalized but is again at home. In the Prayer of the Church we also pray every Sunday for all persecuted Christians throughout the world. Many of our fellow Christians simply do not have the freedom of religion with which we in our country have been blessed.
I must thank Marie Herrington who has served as our organist on Sundays and Charles Ames who has served as organist for the Wednesday Lenten services. Marie is a student at the Peabody Conservatory.
It may be of interest to note that in the early days of Our Saviour Church, then called Jackson Square because of its original location, Louis Kahmer who taught at Peabody was organist for a time. He also harmonized The Common Service with Music , a book published in 1906 which provided the music (most of which is still in use) for the liturgy. It is in fact the book I use for the pastor’s chant at the Divine Service and Vespers. Pastor Steffens, at that time Pastor of Martini Church, took a leading role in preparing this book. The music was of course not new but gathered from the Lutheran Church Orders of the 16th and 17th centuries which in turn were based on the music of the pre-Reformation Church. In using this music there is a wonderful sense of the communion of saints through the ages.
Do remember the needs of the Helping Up Mission and of the GEDCO community food cupboard.
The organizing meeting of the Maryland Chapter of Lutherans for Life was held here at Our Saviour on March 17th. Pastor Roy Coats was elected president; Pastor Thomas Foelber was elected vice-president. Mary Techau is treasurer and Kathy Frey is secretary. Anyone who is concerned about the sanctity of human life can become a member of this group. You will be kept informed of its activities.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the one ground of hope and source of new life through the Holy Spirit. As we approach the glad feast of the Lord’s resurrection let us examine our consciences, repent of our sins, and draw strength from the holy Gospel and the Sacraments in which the risen Lord is mightily at work to forgive, renew and bless. I pray that we keep a truly penitent and faithful Holy Week and then joyfully celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.